Category Archives: 2010-7

Minis 101: Selecting Your First Purchase

Minis 101: Selecting Your First Purchase

There are many variables to consider when you consider purchasing your first Miniature Hereford. First, you need to decide for what purpose you wish to raise Minis. Secondly, you need to determine the size and quality needed for that purpose. Then you will spend many hours researching various options for acquiring the type of animal you’ve selected, and finally you’ll realize your dream by hauling that special animal or group of animals home.

So why do you want to raise Miniature Herefords? For the kids? Grandkids? For cute lawnmowers in that enormous back yard you’re sick of mowing and fertilizing every summer? What about agricultural tax breaks in your area? Do you want the option of healthy beef for your family? Or maybe you want to shoot for that coveted Grand Champion buckle? Answering these questions will help determine what type of Miniature Hereford would best suit your needs.

If you’re looking for an animal that will do well with youngsters, you might want to consider one that is already halterbroken, and is known to be gentle around children. In this instance, and finances aside, the smallest animal you can find who still meets the temperament requirements would be your best choice, for the sake of safety. Depending on whether or not you wish to encourage your kids to show in 4H, FFA or in the Open shows – you might consider leaning toward a show-quality purchase versus pet-quality.

However, if you’re merely looking for a lawncare replacement, size is most likely not your primary concern; you would research calving ease of the animals and units-per-acre in your area to determine the number of head needed to properly “mow and fertilize” your property with as little intervention as possible.

Agricultural tax breaks are a common reason for investing in Miniature Herefords. In some areas of the country, the cost of purchasing the cattle is more than repaid within a few short years. These laws vary from state to state and county to county so be sure to check the regulations for your area.

Another common reason to invest in Miniature Herefords is for the beef. Miniature cattle do not fit the model for today’s beef production system, so do not expect to sell your cattle the “normal” way for any profit. Instead, you have the option of raising organic, grass-fed or natural beef for your family, friends or community members. The simplest method would be to raise beef for your family alone. Have it processed locally or process it yourself and you can provide for your family great-tasting beef that is far superior to even the highest grade grocery store beef. If you choose to label your beef and sell it, be sure to study the rules and regulations regarding the sale of meats, and the special labeling required.

If you wish to raise Miniature Herefords specifically for the show ring, be sure to obtain the best that money can buy and care for them extra specially well. Of course, we can’t all purchase last year’s grand champion in the hopes she’ll win again this year! So purchase the best animal you can find, remembering that price doesn’t always indicate quality. A well conditioned animal, exquisitely fitted and properly shown will still provide an excellent chance at that banner or buckle, and at the very least you’ll have lots of fun in the process.

Once you’ve determined what your purpose is, or which combination of goals you wish to pursue in the Miniature Hereford adventure, you’ll be able to rule out types of animals that are less likely to suit your agenda. The smaller the frame score (size) of the animal, or the more 0’s they’re said to have, the more expensive they will be. This is because 0000 is the smallest anyone has in any quantity. Try looking for a 00000 animal and you’re going to be searching for a while. You’d better be prepared to write a lot of 0’s on that check if you choose to purchase that animal, if you find him. On the other hand, there are many mid-sized Minis in the frame score 0 to 1 range and you’ll have a far wider selection of type and quality. What size and quality you eventually choose is up to you, your goals, your pocket book, and what is available when you’re ready to buy.

So you’ve now decided on the type of animal that will best suit your needs. How far are you willing to to travel to find this animal? Begin by locating breeders in your area, and if possible, go to see their breeding program in operation. Expand your search as necessary. Whatever you do, be sure you’re working with a reputable breeder when you finally choose to purchase. Common pitfalls are paying show-quality price for a pet-quality animal (so study up on your conformation points, visit shows and don’t hesitate to quiz breeders or your Regional Director) or paying top dollar for a small framed animal only to discover she’s not genetically small framed and won’t produce in kind (so study up on those pedigrees, sire/dam frame scores, and obtain references on prospective breeder-sellers). The more you’ve studied, the better your chances of arriving home with your dream cow.

Remember while shopping that somehow you’ll have to cart your acquisition home. If you have a trailer, no worries. If you don’t, ask the seller if they’ll deliver. And if they can’t or won’t, call your Regional Director to find out if there are any breeders currently hauling who might be able to help you out. Definitely solve the transportation logistics before handing over that down payment.

Whatever your path to first-time ownership, there is nothing quite like opening your trailer door and watching your new red white-face hop out of the trailer and trot down the fence line examining her new surroundings.

Welcome to the world of Miniature Herefords!

Heat Stress

audio/video clip of this topic
The effects of heat stress on reproductive performance of beef cows has been discussed by many animal scientists in a variety of ways. After reviewing the scientific literature available up to 1979, one scientist wrote that the most serious seasonal variation in reproductive performance was associated with high ambient temperatures and humidity. He further pointed out that pregnancy rates and subsequent calving rates were reduced from 10% to 25% in cows bred in July through September.
Typical Oklahoma summer weather can fit the description of potential heat stress, where many days in a row can exceed 95 degrees and night time lows are often close to 80 degrees. Many hours of the day can be quite hot and cause the slightest rise in body temperature of cattle. Research conducted several years ago at OSU illustrated the possible impact of heat stress of beef cows on their reproductive capability. These cows were exposed to bulls as one group (while in a thermoneutral environment) and one week later exposed to the environmental treatments listed below in Table 1.

Table 1. Effects of Imposed Heat Stress on Reproduction in Beef Cows
(Biggers, 1986;OSU)
Treatment group/ Control/ Moderate Stress /Severe Stress
Daytime temp (F)/ 71/ 97/ 98
Nighttime temp (F)/ 71/ 91/ 91
Relative Humiditiy %/ 25/ 27/ 40
Rectal temp (F) /102.0/ 102.7 /103.6
Pregnancy %/ 83/ 64/ 50
Conceptus Weight (g) 0.158 0.111 0.073
They found that heat stress of beef cows from day 8 through 16 affected the weights of the conceptus (embryo, fluids, and membranes) and the increased body temperature may have formed an unfavorable environment for embryo survival. As noted in table 1, the percentage of pregnancies maintained throughout the week of severe heat stress was considerably reduced.

Florida scientists studying dairy cows reported that for high conception rates the temperature at insemination and the day after insemination was critical to success. They stated that the optimal temperature range was between 50 degrees F. and 73 degrees F. Marked declines in conception occurred when temperatures did not fall in this range.

Beef producers conducting Artificial Insemination or Embryo Transfer may want to take heed of this information. Make certain that cows are allowed access to shade and adequate air movement, at breeding, and immediately following breeding. Of course, adequate cool water is important anytime during the summer months. Avoid forcing recently inseminated cows to stand in treeless, drylot situations where relief from the Oklahoma heat is impossible.


Minis for the Whole Family

My interest in miniature Hereford cattle started a long time ago. My husband and I stopped at a sale barn in Macon Missouri in April of 1998. Just to see what they had, and what a sale. There were elk, Watusi, Zebu, Dexter and even Miniature Herefords. We watched for a while and then out walked a couple with a pair of miniature Herefords. A bull and a heifer. I thought they were the neatest things I had ever seen. I don’t recall ever seeing miniature cattle before. I have always liked the Hereford breed. Come to find out later, it was Ken and Ali Peterson who had the pair.
Then in 2005 there was an article in the Farm World magazine about a girl showing her miniature Hereford steer at the Indiana State Fair. She had to show against the big ones, because there was no class for the miniatures. She said the judge just kept telling her it was too small. Even though it was fed out. Judges just didn’t understand at that time. But Indiana has never had a class for miniatures as of now .
My husband passed away in 2006. After that I had more time on my hands and I started to look for some miniatures. I went on line and printed out a list of owners. Then
I just started calling. I was looking for some polled heifers and a steer. I found some right here in Indiana and went to see them. I purchased two heifers and a steer in Dec.2007. My son was with me and he purchased a heifer too. His heifer went to the Denver Show and was named the reserve champion fall Jr. miniature Hereford.
Then my grandson got interested and he purchased two heifers from Illinois. That gave us a total of five which was enough to make a class at our county fair. My grandchildren showed all five in 2008. We were really busy, having done this for the first time. My idea was to get the miniatures started on the local level, then maybe it would get started on the state level.
I had to wait until I was 73 years old to get to show cattle. I had always wanted to.
We have shown some at the Farm World Show in Lebanon, the NAILE in
Louisville twice, Iowa St. fair and again in our county 4-H fair.
We now have a total of sixteen including a bull that I purchased. The herd is expanding pretty fast. This spring we had four heifers and one bull calf. Pretty lucky I think.
I don’t have any fancy buildings or anything like that. My barn for the cattle is an old
Garage that we had moved to make room for a new garage. But it works.
I really love my miniatures. I like working with them, they are so gentle. I would rather be working with them as anything else.
I have met a lot of really nice people in this organization. They are my inspiration.

Dema Delp D&S Miniature Herefords

MHBA Animal Health Series

Summertime in Cattle Country

By Peggy Joseph-Potter RN, BSN, MHA

Summer, a time fun, family, fairs and if you raise cattle the challenge brought on by heat, flies, pinkeye and parasites. While we may live in different climates with varying levels of humidity, the stress brought to cattle by this warm weather onslaught is universal.

Heat stress can cause reduced productivity in cattle, the more severe the stress the more detrimental the effects are on performance. Reduction in reproductive ability, daily weight gain and reduced milk production are the main outcomes of this form of stress. Cattle are more sensitive to heat than humans are. Heat stress is a combination of temperature, relative humidity and wind speed. Other factors such as age, hair coat length, hair coat color and nutritional status all play a role in determining the severity of heat stress on your herd. Breeders need to watch their cattle, the environment and be familiar with the signs of heat stress.
Signs of Heat Stress:
•Restlessness and crowding under shade or at water tanks.
•Open-mouthed breathing (panting), and increased salivating.
•Increased respiration rates, (Moderate heat stress: 80 to 120 breaths per minute, Strong heat stress: 120 to 160 breaths per minute. Severe heat stress: over 160.)
•Gasping and lethargic.
The symptoms of heat stress may often present in the same manner as respiratory disease. Cattle do not sweat; therefore, they must use their respiratory system to eliminate excess heat from their bodies.
Heat stress interventions:
Provide ample water. Cattle may need more than 2 gallons of water per 100 pounds of body weight. Provide enough tanks for cattle to be able to get the water they need. If possible, water should be cooled and placed in a shaded area; tanks should be cleaned weekly to encourage water consumption.
Avoid handling cattle. Handling cattle can elevate their body temperature by as much as 3.5 degrees F. If cattle must be worked on hot days, try to do the work before 8:00 AM and keep the maximum time in the holding facilities to no more than 30 minutes
Change feeding schedules. On hot days, shift your feeding times toward the evening hours. Try to deliver 70% of the daily scheduled feed two to four hours after the peak air temperature. Providing only small amounts of feed during the heat of the day, will decrease the metabolic heat of digestion.
Provide shade and improve airflow. Shade can come in the form of trees or it can be constructed. Solid, reflective covering is preferable to slats or other more open forms of overhead roofing. When possible, two shaded areas are recommended, one over the feed area to increase feeding time, and another away from the feed area to encourage the cattle to rest. Water should be made available under both shaded areas, to increase the water consumption during heat stress period. Consider where the cattle are located and if there is any restriction to air flow. Box or barn fans provide increased circulation and when combined with a mister can decrease temperatures in barns and stalls.
Provide water mist. Providing a spray of water will help to cool the animals down. However, it is important to place misters over a clean, preferably concrete area. Misters should not be over dirt or allowed to create pooling or mud puddles, which increases the incidence of bacteria and flies. When possible, use a timer, this will allow cooling without getting the cattle wet
Fly Control:
The control of breeding flies is necessary to assure adequate animal health, rate of gain and to maintain weaning weights. There are two major species of flies that cause the most serious decreased in beef production and require the most control efforts, they are the horn fly and the face fly. Horn flies cause the economic loss for cattle breeders through blood loss and irritation. The reduction in weight gain can be as much as 10-14%
The adult horn fly, which is about one-half the size of a housefly, has piercing/ sucking mouthparts and feeds on blood and tissue fluids of cattle. They spend most of their adult life on cattle and feed 20 to 40 times a day. They are normally found on the animal’s back, but may migrate to the sides and the belly as the temperatures increase. The fact that they spend the majority of their time on the animal’s body makes them much easier to control.
The face fly is about the size of a housefly. They are non-biting, feed on secretions from the eyes, and muzzle. They avoid entering dark places, such as a barn, while on the animal. The female lays eggs on freshly deposited manure like the horn fly; however, unlike the horn fly they are present on cattle only about 10 percent of the time and may be found resting on fence posts, trees, bushes and other objects the other 90 percent of the time. Because they spend so little time on the animal and do not feed on blood, they are much harder to control than horn flies.
There are several methods of fly control, such as insecticide sprays dusts, pour-ons, oilers, dust bags, ear tags, oral larvicides in minerals and blocks and controlled release boluses. All of these methods are effective and have a place in the control program; however, the best fly control can most likely be obtained through an integrated fly control program.
Back rubbers and dust bags are effective and can be placed at gate openings. Insecticide-impregnated ear tags are easy and should be placed at the beginning of the season and removed in the fall. Make sure you fully protect your weaing calves with a pour-on and ear tags for the best coverage. Remember to rotate your insecticides to prevent the development of resistance and an overall decrease the program effectiveness. Organophosphates and pyrethroids are normally alternated based on their effectiveness against flies specific for that region.
Summer is the time to step up your parasite control program. Many of the products and methods used for fly control are also effective against internal and external parasites. Insectide tags, oral lavicides added to mineral blocks and mixes aid in the elimination of parasites from surfaces and manure. Dust bags and sprays are good for control only if used regularly. As with fly control, the best coverage is gained by a combination of methods and products.
Remember the accumulation of water or manure is a prime breeding ground for flies and other parasites. Consult you ranch veterinarian or local Ag extension for the products most effective in your region.
Pink Eye-Moraxella bovis:
Pink eye (moraxella bovis bacterial infection of the eye) in cattle can result in serious economic losses, through poor weight gain, eye damage and even blindness, if left untreated. It is highly contagious and is spread by face flies as they feed on the secretions from the eyes. Early treatment is most effective, the use of ointments, sprays and powders must be performed twice per day and this requires the eye to be protected against sunlight or further irritation from flies, dust and foreign objects with an eye shield. The administration of 1 ml Penicillin given under the eyelid in two places is usually effective enough for one treatment.
Symptoms of Pinkeye vary from watering and drainage of the eye in the early stages to a cloudy discoloratation or even ulcerations of the cornea in the latent phase. Early treatment is necessary to prevent advancement of the disease and prevent permanent damage.
Newer treatments such as the use of Veterycin VF TM are also very effective if started at the onset of symptoms. It is much less caustic, painful, and irritating to the animal than other treatments. Our personal experience with this product has been very good and we use it as a first line drug in the treatment of any bacterial, fungal, viral or spore forming infection. Its non-irritating formula makes it a great all purpose as a wound cleanser as well.
Summer is a great time to enjoy your animals so keep them healthy by being prepared. Purchase your ear tags, dust bags and sprays early. Combine these activities with pour-ons, vaccinations and other possible heat producing events early in the day. Diminish pest breeding grounds by ensuring your pens are free of standing water and accumulate manure. Healthy Herefords make for happy breeders, so be prepared and start early to assure your programs effectiveness.
Blazinger, S. P. Reduce Heat Stress in Cattle to Maintain Profit. Cattle Today.
John Maas, D. M. (April 2002). UCD, VetMed,Fly Control For Cattle. California Cattlemen.
LSU, A. C. Pinkeye in Beef Cattle. LSU Ag Center.
Oaklahoma State University, Cattle Stress Model. OSU

Peggy and her husband, Bob Potter, own and operate PJ Ranch LLC in Winton, California where they raise Miniature and Polled Herefords. They have been active participants in the MHBA since 2002. She is employed as a critical care nurse for a local medical center.


Invest in Fly Control

MT. VERNON, Mo. — Think how much aggravation 200 flies biting and flying around you would create. No wonder research shows that blood-sucking horn flies can reduce calf weaning weights by up to 20 pounds and reduce gains on stocker cattle by 25 pounds per head when flies are not controlled.

The threshold level for economical fly control begins around 200 flies per animal according to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“Counting flies isn’t easy so most of the estimates are made using the assumption that if there’s an area of flies on the animal the size of the palm of your hand that’s roughly 50 flies,” said Cole. “I’ve assisted with a field trial that involved using binoculars and actually counting flies early in the season when they weren’t too numerous and it is easy to get 200 flies per animal.”

In addition to horn flies, horse flies, stable flies and face flies may create problems for cattle as the summer goes on. Each of these creates a unique problem for animals and are difficult to control according to Cole.

“The routine control measures for horn flies will only have limited success with the other fly species,” said Cole.

Sprays, insecticidal ear tags, dust bags, back rubbers, pour-ons and oral larvacides are the controls used on horn flies.

“There is even research supporting biological control with fly predators, but they work mainly in densely populated cattle areas such as feedlots,” said Cole.

Another interesting point in cattle fly control is that some animals seem to be less susceptible to flies than others. Researchers are looking at this from the cattle’s genetic resistance standpoint. It could involve hair density, hair color, sex of the animal, hide thickness, etc.

“As you work with your herd you may observe that some cattle attract more or significantly fewer flies than others,” said Cole. “Most of the fly control methods for horn flies do work. However, cost, convenience and length of control must be considered.”

For more information on fly control in beef cattle, check out the Missouri Beef Resource web site at Three MU Extension livestock specialists are also available in southwest Missouri and can be reached by telephone: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102, Gary Naylor in Dallas County, (417) 345-7551, and Dona Geode, in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313.


Deciding Which Horn Fly Control Measure is Best for you

Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension, says there are several things to keep in mind when deciding which horn fly control measure it best. Keep the following items in mind:

* Resistance to pesticides can develop so rotating each year or so between the pyrethroids and the organophosphates will help slow down the resistance buildup.
* Remove old fly tags at the end of their useful life. Leaving them in aids in fly resistance buildup.
* Many fly tags are still effective, but frequently are put in too early in the season. Rotate the active ingredient used in the tag from year-to-year.
* Backrubbers or dust bags are highly effective and economical, but they require regular management to make sure cattle use them.
* If you’re fortunate enough to have a supply of wire and burlap bags you can make your own rubber at a significant savings. Old flannel material will work in place of burlap.
* Feed-throughs offer convenience, but cost more per day or month. They are most effective when consumed by all cattle in a fairly large area. The additive interrupts the life cycle of the horn fly in the manure pat.
* Combining horn fly control tactics may be helpful to give the cattle maximum relief. Remember you’ll never have totally fly-free cattle.
* Face flies are generally not resistant to pesticides and insecticidal ear tags and other control methods for horn flies are effective against them.
* Treatment costs per head per day can vary from a couple of cents up to 8 to 10 cents depending on method and expected length of effectiveness.

For persons not wanting to use pesticides, University of Missouri Extension does have plans for a walk-through fly trap (that reduces flies up to 70 percent) that can be located where cattle pass through it daily. Ask the nearest MU Extension Center for guide sheet 1195 or find it online at

Source: Eldon Cole, University of Missouri Extension